Beginning at Brüel & Kjær in 1998, Kalle Hvidt Nielsen, CEO of DPA Microphones invested a decade into learning about sound measurement from the world’s largest manufacturer of associated gear. From there, Nielsen rose to the position of CEO at Bang & Olufsen. Together, these experiences prepared Nielsen for his role at DPA Microphones, which began last year.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for me because I could build on my experience from the audio business, as well as my commercial experience,” explains Nielsen of his stillnew role at DPA. “I have worked in larger companies and, with DPA, I believe that I have all the skills necessary to ensure that [it] grows into a larger, even more professional company. I am lucky to work with a wonderful group of skilled and enthusiastic people who take pride in manufacturing the world’s best microphone solutions.”
Nielsen is uniquely equipped to lead a company that builds what are widely accepted as “measurement grade” microphones, thanks to his work at B&K, which shares a history with DPA: “Not only do we understand how to design top-quality microphones, but we understand that everything around the microphone also impacts the sound. We believe it is important for our customers to not only have the best microphone solution but also ensure that it is optimally fitted for their specific purpose and the environment it will perform in. We therefore try to share our knowledge and experience through what we call the DPA Mic University. We [also] have many highly skilled people offering training and education around the world.”
Nielsen’s educational background—engineering experience combined with a Bachelor’s degree in Sales and Marketing—merges with years of practical experience in managing audio businesses to create a foundation for the CEO to contribute significantly to the technology and product development side of DPA. “I am especially involved in formulating and planning the overall strategic directions for our technology, product development, and sales and marketing activities,” notes Nielsen. “DPA is in a fortunate situation; as more and more people hear the sound of our microphones, they become users of our products. We have been developing new products at an increasing rate and we are extremely proud and enthusiastic that [such] famous artists are using DPA microphones to ensure the optimal experience for their audiences. DPA started as a very small company, but it has grown, and today, it is a fast-growing professional business that has had a substantial growth rate for many years. This type of continued growth requires a different, more structured and strategic approach to business, which I am happy to oversee and drive to the next level.”
DPA employs 170 people worldwide, most of them located in its production facility in Asnæs, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Copenhagen, Denmark. “Seventy percent are employed in production to manufacture our microphones at the right quality level and in the right quantity,” explains Nielsen. “Manufacturing the mics in Denmark is one of the key factors to maintain the high-quality level of our products. We ensure that all our mics are produced within a very tight tolerance level so they sound identical with all the other mics (of the same type). This makes it easier for sound engineers to use our mics; there are less adjustments needed. We are constantly improving everything we do, and production is no exception. We see the result of this in increasing efficiency, output and quality.
Meanwhile, DPA’s headquarters is situated in Alleroed, 15 miles north of Copenhagen, where all R&D, administration, customer care, and sales and marketing departments reside. “We have more than 50 distributors around the world representing the DPA brand and serving their local market,” explains Nielsen of DPA’s vast international reach. “We have high expectations of our distributors. They are all highly qualified and long-term partners. They take care of our most precious possessions: the DPA brand and the DPA products. We also have 16 people in the USA, most of them situated in our U.S. office, from where we serve the U.S. market with service, shipping and sales. Furthermore, we have a Hong Kong sales office with four people serving the APAC region.”
Product-wise, DPA is dedicated to making the highest quality microphones it can for fully professional users, as demand for its products continues to increase. “We are willing to walk the extra mile to make this happen,” says Nielsen. “Our company is as passionate about our mics as our customers are passionate about their sound and their audience’s experiences. We see a growing need for high-quality microphones in all pro audio markets worldwide. We are represented in all relevant geographical markets and growing our presence. We are also represented in the major segments that need high-quality sound, like theater, broadcast, live, installation and so on. We still see many areas where the potential for our microphones is untapped.”
Continuing to tap new markets is precisely what DPA has done, notably with its new microphone base series for the d:screet Series of podium microphones. “It is an advanced and elegantly designed microphone base series for our podium microphones, meant for conference facilities, installation and House-of-Worship markets,” says Nielsen. “These sleek-looking and easy-to-install bases can be ceiling- or tabletop-mounted, and will please everyone from the architect to the system integrator, as well as the electrician installing the products. We also have other new, ingenious products in the pipeline for the near future, some of which will help people gather news stories on-the-go while maintaining high-quality sound.”
How does DPA deal with competition? It effectively collaborates with them, answers Nielsen: “We are in the situation that many of our closest competitors also supply other equipment that our customers need for their audio solution. For example, we often see DPA microphones being used together with Sennheiser wireless solutions, and we offer a complete range of adapters that make DPA interface to any competitor’s equipment. In many cases, the best solution will be achieved by picking the best elements from the best providers—microphones from DPA combined with supplementary equipment from a competitor.”
DPA Mic University
This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of Pro Sound News as "View from the Top: A Career d:voted to Audio—Kalle Hvidt Nielsen, CEO, DPA Microphones."